WR Derek McCoy scored a fourth-quarter touchdown in Hamburg's comeback attempt against Rhein
The 19-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Derek McCoy came just 24 seconds into the fourth quarter, giving the Hamburg Sea Devils, down 24-19 after a failed two-point conversion, plenty of time to complete a comeback against the Rhein Fire on Saturday.
Unfortunately for the Sea Devils, their last three drives came up short and, when Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Casey Bramlett's 'Hail Mary' attempt to McCoy was broken up at the buzzer, the Fire had their first victory of the season. The Sea Devils fell one game off the pace after six of the season's 10 regular-season weeks, dropping to 3-3, behind a trio of 4-2 teams. The two teams with the best records (using tiebreakers if necessary) at the end of the regular season will play in the league's championship game, the World Bowl.
One of those 4-2 squads is the Cologne Centurions, which includes four players allocated to the NFLEL by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, as McCoy was. While guard Mitch White has not played this spring due to injury, Cologne's defense includes three Buccaneer starter: safety Kalvin Pearson and defensive tackles Delbert Cowsette and Bryan Save. All three made contributions to the Centurions' 23-17 comeback win over the Berlin Thunder, also 4-2, but it was Save who turned in one of the game's biggest defensive plays.
Trailing 17-10 when the final period began, the Thunder scored two quick rushing touchdowns, missing the extra point on the second TD to leave the margin at six points. That lead appeared to be in danger when Houston Texans quarterback Dave Ragone drove Berlin to the Cologne 40 with 1:14 to play. However, Save broke through for a sack on first-and-10 and the Thunder couldn't dig out of the hole, with Ragone throwing three straight incompletions to turn the ball over on downs.
Cowsette and Pearson contributed one tackle each to the Cologne victory.
One Buccaneer allocate was on the losing end of that tight game, as punter Brian Simnjanovski had a busy day for the Thunder. Berlin punted seven times, and Simnjanovski averaged 40.9 yards on those seven kicks, dropping one inside the 20 but suffering two touchbacks.
There was also just one Buccaneer in the Amsterdam Admirals' lopsided win over the Frankfurt Galaxy. Amsterdam, ranked first in the league in both offense and defense, is the third team in the league's first-place tie after drubbing the Galaxy, 48-10. There are no Buccaneer allocates on the Amsterdam squad, but quarterback Akili Smith plays for the Galaxy. In this case, however, Smith watched as the New York Jets' Kevin Eakin took all the snaps, a change from the season's first five weeks, in which the two passers generally alternated quarters at the helm.
The remaining three Buccaneers in Europe performed in the aforementioned Rhein win over Hamburg. Cornerback Blue Adams started for the sixth straight week and pitched in with three tackles and a pass defensed. He knocked down a third-down pass intended for McCoy just before halftime, forcing the Sea Devils to settle for a field goal.
Of course, Hamburg sent their kicker out for the resulting 47-yard kick with great confidence, as Sea Devil Todd France remains on pace for the best placekicking season in NFLEL history. France nailed that long kick, his second 47-yarder in as many drives, to cut Rhein's lead to 14-6 at halftime.
The big news from the game was that France actually missed a kick, hooking a 48-yard try to the left in the first quarter. That was only the third misfire in 19 attempts for France, who has also nailed all 12 of his extra point tries and has connected from as far as 54 yards out. He leads the NFL with 61 points. At his current pace, France would finish the 10-week season with 27 field goals, 32 attempts and 102 points; the current league records, all held by Scott Szeredy, are 23, 27 and 85.
The Bucs also had a second receiver in the game for Hamburg, as Terrance Metcalf came in as a reserve to catch five passes for 66 yards. Both he and McCoy stepped up for the Sea Devils, who lost leading receiver Scott McCready to injury in the third quarter. McCoy finished with a season-high 71 yards on five receptions.
Here is a rundown of how the Buccaneers' 10 NFL Europe-allocated players performed in the sixth week of the spring season:
- CB Blue Adams, Rhein Fire…Registered three tackles and one pass defensed against Hamburg. * DT Delbert Cowsette, Cologne Centurions…Recorded one tackle against Berlin. * K Todd France, Hamburg Sea Devils…Connected on two field goals of 47 yards against Rhein. * WR Derek McCoy, Hamburg Sea Devils…Caught five passes for 71 yards, including a 19-yard touchdown reception against Rhein. * WR Terrance Metcalf, Hamburg Sea Devils…Caught five passes for 66 yards against Rhein. * S Kalvin Pearson, Cologne Centurions…Recorded one tackle against Berlin. * DT Bryan Save, Cologne Centurions…Recorded four tackles and 1.0 sack for a four-yard loss against Berlin. * P Brian Simnjanovski, Berlin Thunder…Punted seven times for a 40.9 average with a long of 61 yards against Cologne. * QB Akili Smith, Frankfurt Galaxy…Saw action against Amsterdam. * G Mitch White, Cologne Centurions…Did not play against Berlin.